UN officials told Reuters on Friday the world body was redeploying peacekeepers to hotspot areas along the border because of fears that conflict may erupt in the build-up to a referendum on whether the south should declare independence or stay in Sudan.
“The remarks … on the deployment of UN buffer zone on the border between north and south reflect nothing but ignorance of the facts on the course of events in Sudan or harassment aimed at (Sudan’s) stability and integrity,” Sudan’s army spokesperson told the state Suna news agency late on Friday.
Sudan is now less that three months away from the scheduled start of the vote, promised in a 2005 peace deal that ended decades of north-south civil war – a conflict that left an estimated 2 milling dead and forced 4 million to flee.
The president of the semi-autonomous south Salva Kiir last week told visiting UN Security Council envoys he feared the north was moving troops southwards and preparing for war, members of the delegation said.
Washington’s ambassador to the UN Susan Rice on Thursday confirmed Kiir asked for a UN-administered 16km buffer zone along the ill-defined border.